World Cup Odds and Picks: Cameroon Vs. Denmark Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 6/17/2010
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One thing that makes a soccer game, or any sporting event for that matter, more interesting is when the teams involved are desperate. This game should be a classic, then, because it just oozes desperation. Both teams are coming off of humbling, frustrating losses in their first games of the World Cup, and a second loss for either team will likely mean the end of their already very slim championship dreams. On the other hand, a win doesn't guarantee anything, but it makes the final game of the round robin particularly meaningful.
This virtual Group E loser's bracket game takes place in Pretoria at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 19.
Besides their desperation, both squads will come into this game with more than their share of frustration as well. Denmark was given a golden opportunity in their opening game against Netherlands. The Dutch came out of the gate flat, and never showed any real spark in the game. They could have been vulnerable to a strong Danish showing, but Denmark just couldn't get out of their own way. They hung tight in the first half, but opened the second half by scoring on their own net and giving the Dutch the win.
That's a soul-killing outcome, but not as bad as what Cameroon endured. They were heavily favored in their contest against Japan, but the Japanese committed to a stunningly one-dimensional game-plan - defense at all costs - and it worked better than it probably should have. Japan took all momentum and flow out of the game, sat on the ball as much as they could, and came out on top despite only taking three shot on goal all game. It was ugly, but it worked. What remains to be seen is how Cameroon can bounce back from this one. If they can positively channel their anger then they should be able to win here. If they pout about their fate, though, then it could be a short tournament.
FIFA Rankings are flawed in many ways, but if you choose to trust them then Cameroon has a solid edge in this game. They are ranked 19th in the world - second best in all of Africa behind only an Egyptian team that failed to qualify for the World Cup. Denmark is ranked well behind at 36th. Denmark seems to rise up for the big occasions, though - they have only qualified for the World Cup three times, but they have advanced beyond the round robin each time, and made the quarterfinals once. Cameroon has also made a quarterfinals appearance, but have failed to advance the other four times they have made the field.
Having the best player in the game doesn't always matter for a team, but if it does here then Cameroon is the clearly favorite. Samuel Eto'o is fresh off his second straight Champions League title, and is the first player ever to win two European Continental trebles - wins in the league, domestic cup, and Champions League in the same year. He's the most decorated player Africa has ever produced, and he's a goal scoring genius. No player for either side has more capability to take this game over and carry his team more than he does. The way he was used in the opening loss to Japan was mystifying, though. He was forced to stay wide for much of the game, and Alex Song - his most natural playmaking partner - was left on the game the whole time. Coach Paul le Guen will have to use his assets better here.
Cameroon vs. Denmark World Cup Odds
Oddsmakers don't see much to choose between these two teams. Denmark is favored, but not by much - they are at Pick (-130), while Cameroon pays even money at Pick. When you factor in the draw, Denmark sits at +145, with Cameroon at +175, and the draw at +220. The total is at 2.5 with the under significantly favored (-175). Odds are courtesy of Bodog and Sports Interaction.
Cameroon vs. Denmark Picks and Predictions
Cameroon wins if: The offense is given room to move. Japan played a strong defensive game, and Cameroon let them. Eto'o tried to make things happen out of the midfield, and nothing materialized. As the game progressed he was seen more often making high offensive charges, and he was dramatically more effective. He needs to be given the room to move, and the tools to best create with. The more offensive the game is, the better for Cameroon, and they have the ability to control that. They also need to show more cohesion and heart. There were disturbing signs in the opener that this team doesn't have the kind of attitude that wins World Cup games.
Denmark wins if: They can relax. In the first half against Netherlands they played well enough to at least earn a draw, and probably win. In qualifying they looked very good, and won their group over two tough teams in Portugal and Spain. They are a good team. In the second half of that opening game, though, they looked tense, made a crucial mistake, and then always seemed to be fighting from behind to try to make up for it. They aren't a team that is going to win f they are tense or playing below their best. If they focus on their task and play to their own gameplan, though, then they can win. It's a cliche, but in this case it's true - Denmark's biggest opponent here is themselves.
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